I went sprinting barefoot for the first time ever today. I'm sure I've run fast as a kid on the beach, but I've never done so on a field, to my recollection. It was an impressively... natural movement. There was no pain at all in my feet, although afterward I noticed I abraded some of my calluses a bit. I did step on a clear plastic bottle cap at one point (that went into the garbage) but it didn't really hurt since I just skipped with the opposite foot.
I think I was just as fast as with shoes and I had far better control at top-speed. Normally when I reach top-speed I am wind-milling my feet as fast as possible and I feel distinctly like I am not in control until I stop running and free-wheel down to a stop. I tried to articulate my feet; I'm not sure how successful I was but like I said earlier, the movement was very natural. In retrospect, it seems obvious that bare foot running should feel extremely comfortable, as long as you don't puncture your foot. Of course, one of the advantages of sprints is you can easily scout your route for anything you really don't want to step on.
I've had flat feet for a long time, and used orthopedics in my shoes to correct my gait to avoid shin splints and other muscle and knee problems from running and walking. I'm very tempted to try and toughen up my feet enough that I can try some moderate distance running, say a couple of kilometers, barefoot and see if I develop shin splints.
I've been looking around for Vibram Five Fingers awhile now but no one local in Edmonton seems to carry them. One of my friends said she had spotted them at Mountain Equipment Co-op, but alas, they were not there today when I checked. They are present on the website, but they don't seem like the type of shoes one orders via mail order without fitting. C'est la vie.
I use Vibrams for all hiking, running, sprinting, etc in the mountains and everywhere else. I cannot recommend them highly enough.
I've noticed the same things you have about sprinting on natural terrain. Something about the speed and uncertainty makes my mind able to 'read' the ground faster as it comes toward me. Let me know if I can answer any Vibram questions for you.
Have you checked out here:
Fast Trax Run & Ski
7326 101 Avenue
Edmonton, AB, Canada
The Letter J:
Yes! I have questions. I've been thinking about buying some of these for awhile. Aside from the issues of sizing while buying online, I've wondered about the type to get.
I'd like to use them for everyday wear plus working out and sprints. But I also do a fair amount of hiking, scrambling, paddling, rafting etc. with scout group I lead. And I hate to get grit in my shoes.
So I'm thinking that I might need two pair: Classic and KSO. I know that KSO would work everywhere that Classic would, but it might be nice to have more air flow in everyday situations. I'd start with Classic I guess to see how I do.
Thanks, I'll check them out. I seem to remember that place is tough to get to by bicycle so I guess I'll take the car.
Interesting. I too have flat feet, & use custom sneakers to avoid knee issues.
@The Letter J:
Abt the point on hiking, are they comfy on rocky terrain? Here in Central PA, some of the trails are rocky. Also, do you find it a bit difficult hiking downhill?
I've been wearing these things exclusively for five months now, even through the winter in the snow. I don't run long distance, but I do sprint, hike and walk everywhere in them.
The size thing is pretty straightforward if you don't have mutant feet. Use the length measurments on their site, but be generous. With my first pair of KSOs I went with the closest size, and they fit fine, if a little snug. Then I got a pair of Flows (for the winter) and went up to the next size. They're nice and roomy, which helps because the Flows are much stickier, being neoprene toe sockets.
I don't think it's a problem erring on the large side, at least by one size. Since your standing on a flat piece of rubber, there's no form fitting sole parts that have to align with foot structures. You can just socket the toes and let the heel fall where it will.
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